University of California invests millions in 'climate justice' research, K–12 content

The WUICAN will both create a network for climate research among University of California schools and help develop climate-related curricula for K–12 schools.

As part of the $80 million Climate Action Research Initiative, UC Irvine will appropriate $5.5 million to organize the Wildland-Urban Interface Climate Action Network.

The University of California Office of the President will invest $5.5 million toward the creation of a new climate-related project headed up by the Irvine campus. The project, titled the Wildlan-Urban Interface Climate Action Network (WUICAN), connects researchers at University of California campuses to combat climate change.

“WUICAN builds on years of strategic planning and programs at [Universities of California Irvine, Riverside, and San Diego] focused on land stewardship and risk management in a rapidly changing climate,” reads an announcement on UCI News.

The WUICAN project reflects California’s priority for “climate justice.” UC Irvine declared the project “enables tribes and community groups to partner with universities and land managers to reduce climate change risks.”

WUICAN is, according to UC Irvine, part of the Climate Action Research Initiative—an $80 million strategy to combat climate change through “investments in climate action research that will have swift and measureable impact,” according to UCLA’s website.

Heading up the WUICAN is Steven Allison, a biology professor at UC Irvine. “The goal of our project is to create a network through which we conduct research and develop effective policies to meet the needs of California communities impacted by wildfire, drought, and extreme weather,” he told Campus Reform.

[RELATED: California college students to be paid for climate change work]

The project includes provisions for K–12 students to receive “climate action education and traning.”

“We are interested in hearing from K-12 students and teachers about their needs and concerns,”  Allison told Campus Reform, “and our research team will be available to help teachers develop evidence-based curriculum materials.”

[RELATED: Leo DiCaprio teams up with UCLA to train kids as young as 4 to be ‘climate warriors’]

Previous Campus Reform coverage reveals California, among other states, could soon legally mandate climate change content in K-12 education.

California’s Assembly Bill 285, if passed, would classify instruction in climate change as a required science class in K–12 schools.

[RELATED: Laws requiring climate change content in K-12 education follow push from colleges]

On top of K–12 education, WUICAN will incorporate “multidisciplinary” research across the University of California system at Irvine, Riverside, and San Diego. The involved schools would contribute more than just scientific expertise.

“[Climate change is] a complex problem,” Allison said, “so we are bringing people together with expertise in science, policy, communications, anthropology, and other fields.”